The Fuji Pot
The First Dutch Oven ended with me in possession of a bunch of rabbit carcasses. This tale is about what happened to them. See, I lived off-campus in the upstairs of a rattrap wood frame house with my roommate, Scott. Neither he nor I had much money and in order to afford rent, beer and tobacco, we had to economize on non-essentials like nutritious food.
Scott was a great story teller, with many a tall tale to tell. One he told was of an island people who maintained an endless stew, called a “Fuji Pot.” Now, it was a verbal tale so I’m spelling it phonetically and don’t even know if it’s true. If any of you anthropologists out there have ever heard of it, please give me the full story and correct spelling.
In the interests of eating, Scott and I decided to have a Fuji Pot of our own. We had actually started it before the great rabbit hunt. We’d gone out into the Ag Area at night and climbed up into the tops of the empty concrete-walled grain silos to harvest pigeons. When I think back to crawling around on steel girders, a hundred feet above the concrete floor to blind pigeons with a flashlight, for no more meat than you can get off a pigeon, we were pretty stupid. But it was an adventure and we weren’t supposed to be doing it; two of the main reasons young men everywhere do dumb things.
The rabbit hunt brought us a protein bonanza. The freezer in our rattrap refrigerator had the capacity of two ice cube trays, if we bothered to defrost it, so we went to the local butcher shop and rented a locker in their walk-in freezer. For you young folks, in that day the home freezer was rare-to-nonexistent. Butcher shops rented “meat lockers”, racks of wire baskets, in their freezer that you put your padlock on.
We were eating “high off the bunny.” We’d just feed bunny and pigeon and various vegetative matter and spices into the pot, cook it up and enjoy. The pot never ran empty, so we didn’t have to wash it. The living was easy.
Then, Scott, a zoology major, took a course in parasitology. As part of the labs, students and faculty would bring in carcasses of whatever creatures they came across in their walks of life, over their gun sights or under the wheels of their vehicles. The students would then dig around inside and outside the creatures for bugs and crawlies. Well, Scott, never one to pass up a good thing, started bringing any reasonably fresh carcasses home to go into the Pot. More protein.
So, today when faced with the question on a credit or job application, “Have you ever knowingly eaten road kill?” I have to answer in the affirmative. It’s just one of those crosses one has to bear for youthful indiscretions. I suppose it’s sort of the equivalent of today’s drunken Facebook photos.
Various domestic mammals and birds went into the Pot (no dogs or cats), some snakes (taste like chicken), possums, squirrels, more bunnies, some quail… can’t remember what else… other than one that led to the funniest memory of the era. One day Scott brought home a big snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). It was hard to “skin out”, but there was quite a bit of meat on it. And the head, well the strength of their jaws is well known, so there’s a lot of muscle up there. Being lazy by nature, rather than try to bone it out we just tossed the whole skinned head into the Pot.
Larry, a friend of ours, came over to visit. The Pot was on the stove, cooking away. Larry said, “Man, something sure smells good!” We told him we were having stew and he was welcome to join us. He lifted the lid to get a better whiff and was confronted by the baleful glare of Mr. Snapper, animatedly bobbling about in the bubbling liquid. “Ahh, I’m not really as hungry as I thought I was,” said Larry, as he lowered the lid.
I suppose Scott and I would have gone on feeding the Pot until we graduated, but one morning I woke to the apartment on fire. All I got out of there with were the underpants I was wearing, a borrowed pair of binoculars and my dictionary (told you I liked words, still have that dictionary). Fire burned up everything else I owned, including a couple of hundred quail wings I was analyzing for a class project. Burned up the Fuji Pot too.
Then the school didn’t want to let me back into the dorms because I’d grown a beard. But that‘s another story. Thanks for indulging me for a tale that doesn’t really have a darn thing to do with boating!
Bon Appétit and Boat Safe,